is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

12 Bird Species That Fly at Night + Why

Sharing is caring!

Are you a bird watcher? Do you find these flying animals amazing? If so, you might have questions about these beautiful creatures. Have you ever wondered: do birds fly at night?

Bird sitting on a tree during night.

If you have, then you’re in the right place. Here, we will describe whether birds fly at night and explain why they may do so. Also, you will learn the top 12 bird species that do fly during the night. Ready to learn more? Let’s get started!


So, Do Birds Fly at Night?

We all know that birds stay active during the day. Once the sun sets, you may not see as many birds flying. Do they sleep at night? Some may, but you’ve probably heard birds chirping in the early and still dark hours of the morning.

You will find that nocturnal, and some diurnal birds do fly at night. Nocturnal animals stay awake at night, while diurnal birds rest at night and stay active during the day.

Top Five Reasons Why Birds Fly at Night

You will find some birds are awake at night and may even fly in the night sky. So, why do birds fly at night? There are five major reasons explaining their night flying. These five reasons are:

  • They are nocturnal and sleep during the day while remaining active at night
  • They are mostly diurnal but forage for food at night
  • They are generally diurnal but woke up from their sleep
  • Despite being diurnal, they sing during the night for mating reasons or to defend their territory
  • They are usually diurnal but fly at night for migration reasons

12 Bird Species That Fly at Night

You will find that there are at least 12 bird species that fly during the night. We describe each of these 12 species of birds below. Check them out below!

Night Heron

Night heron standing on a wooden pole.

The term Night Heron usually refers to the black-crowned night heron species. The bird comes from all over the world, including Europe, Asia, North America, South America, and Australia. The bird has a short neck and short legs with brown or dark grey plumage.

You can find nests of the Night Heron up in trees or even on the ground.


Petrel flying over sea.

Petrel birds live and hunt outdoors on top of the ocean. When they’re ready to mate and breed, you will only find the birds on land. Usually, they go to small islands away from humans to breed.

You can find several of the Petrel species flying at night, while others may fly during the day.

Yellow Warbler

A cute yellow warbler standing on a bush stem.

Do you love bright and colorful birds? The Yellow Warbler is a gorgeous bird with bright yellow feathers. It’s a small bird about 4.5 inches long. You can find them in the central and northern parts of North America.

The Yellow Warbler birds tend to migrate at night to avoid predators.


Brown-white killdeer walking on a meadow.

The Killdeer bird can stay active both during the day and at night. When the moon is full, you can find the Killdeer species flying around at night, foraging for food. The Killdeer bird has a white breast and belly with brown wings and head. You will see the bird throughout North America.

Eastern Whip-Poor-Will

A cute eastern whip-poor-will sleeping on a tree branch.

The Eastern Whip-Poor-Will bird is part of the Night Jar species. This is a completely nocturnal bird, so you can expect it to stay active during the night and sleep during the day.

They perch on trees and fly to catch insects like moths during the night. These birds live in the forests of the eastern United States.

Tawny Frogmouth

Cool-looking tawny frogmouth sittong on a tree branch.

The Tawny Frogmouth bird looks similar to an owl. They are grey and have large heads with big, yellow eyes. The Tawny Frogmouth’s beak is rather flattened, and they have a frog-like mouth. That’s why these birds were named Tawny Frogmouth.

These birds eat nocturnal bugs like moths, worms, and slugs. They stay active and fly at night to feed themselves.

Barn Owl

A cute barn owl sitting in a hollow tree trunk.

Owls are the most typical birds you will find flying at night. The barn owl is a completely nocturnal animal. You can find the barn owl in different parts of the United States and worldwide. You will find owls hanging out in barns, forests, cities, and open regions.

At night, you will hear the screech of the barn owl searching for food.

Great Horned Owl

Mean-looking great horned owl standing on a wooden pole.

The Great Horned Owl is nocturnal and spends its nights hunting for food. These particular owls fly low to the ground when hunting for mice, ducks, or rabbits. They will even get into the shallow water to find prey.

The Great Horned Owl has impressive hearing and eyesight to help it see and hear at night. That way, they can find prey more easily.

Alder Flycatcher

A cute alder flycatcher standing on a thin tree branch.

The Alder Flycatcher is a bird that migrates long distances during the night. These birds spend the spring and summer in the United States and Canada while flying down to South America for the winter. These birds live in swamps, by lakes, and in forests.

Northern Mockingbird

A cute nothern mockingbird standing on a thin tree branch.

The Northern Mockingbird is not one to sleep too much. You will find the bird staying active during the day and singing beautiful songs overnight. Singing allows them to attract mates along with defending their territory.

American Woodcocks

A brown american woodcock drinking water.

The American Woodcock stays active at night and searches for prey like earthworms and other invertebrates. You will also find these birds migrating during the night at low altitudes of about 50 feet in height. The American Woodcocks live in forests throughout the United States.


A cute nightingale standing on a bush bud.

The nightingale is a bird that sings and flies during the night, especially when migrating. The males sing to attract female nightingales. These birds have powerful singing abilities like whistling. Nightingales come from Europe and sub-Saharan Africa.

Wrap Up

Now you know that birds do fly at night, and you can find at least 12 different types of birds flying in the dark. While the majority of these birds are nocturnal, some are diurnal. These diurnal birds forage for food at night, sing songs, and sometimes migrate to warmer climates.

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Comment